Approach Your Day with a Sales Plan

In professional selling, the day that you have before you is the most important.  With the 12 hours you have ahead of you, every minute should be optimised for the actions that will bring you the best results.

Top salespeople do not waste a minute, an hour or a day.  They work to a plan and understand what should happen to help them build market share and sales opportunities.  They then start the process and they control it to the very end.  Yes, I know that some things will always happen that will upset the process and some of the actions that were planned, but most of the time the top salesperson got the right things done as part of their day plan; they knew that they were in control and they did not give that control to anyone else.

If you are a professional salesperson, the same rules should apply to you.  Here are some questions and concepts to consider:

  • How will you focus your energy all day to get the job done at a high level?
  • What do you need to practice that will have great benefit on the results?
  • What barriers will you strike and how will you handle them?
  • How will you stay focused and ‘cool’ under pressure?
  • What thoughts and actions will help you rise to the challenge?
  • What are your goals to focus on and how are you doing that?

Have you ever noticed how top golfers approach their game?  They practice for hours before the game, and then they approach the game with a sequence of focus.  Every shot that they take is a planned event.  They size up the shot, stand behind the ball and visualise the ‘drive’ and the ‘direction’.  They are prepared for performance.

The same logic applies to professional salespeople.  Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Plan the events of the day.
  2. Start every day with focus and practice before you get to your office or sales territory.
  3. Understand the key issues that will take you to the top of the ‘sales’ game.
  4. Every telephone call, meeting, proposal, presentation, and negotiation should be well crafted.

It is surprising just how many salespeople do not focus and practice their skills.  That is an amazing opportunity for those that are prepared to do so.

Sales Team Leaders or Sales Team Disasters

It is interesting to note that many successful sales people do not make very good team leaders.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that promoting a top salesperson to the role of ‘team leader’ is a bad thing.

The character of a team leader is totally different to that of a salesperson.   A top salesperson is generally focused on personal systems and actions.  That is why they are so good at what they do; each day they do the right things and build momentum and market share.  They also will earn a lot of commission as a result of these personal processes.

Many business leaders and CEO’s unfortunately take the top performer from the team and give them the ‘tag’ of ‘sales manager’ or ‘sales director’.  That person will be given a pay increase in exchange for sharing their skills around the greater team.  Whilst the logic is there, it is a ‘dumb’ business move.

Do you know what I mean?  Have you been there before?  Here are some facts that you cannot ignore.

  • The character of a top performer is one of achievement.  That is removed when they are appointed as ‘sales manager’.
  • A top salesperson will drive massive business when given autonomy and left to establish their systems and procedures.  Flexibility and creativity are critical factors to top sales performers.  In the role of ‘sales manager’ they will not have that.
  • A ‘sales manager’ has to be skilful in team leadership and team counselling.  Those skills do not sit well with a top sales performer.

The best sales managers are special people that know how to encourage personal performance across many different types of people.  They enjoy the job for the benefit and results that the team can achieve.  Choose your sales managers well, and your business will benefit.

Get on the Front Foot in Sales Today

In professional selling I see so many salespeople that are struggling or at best are just in the ‘average’ zone.  The problem evolves from one single fact.  They are ‘reactive’ and not ‘proactive’.  I call it being on the ‘back foot’.

To get anywhere in sales and customer contact you really do need to have a process of being on the ‘front foot’.  In other words you are taking the right action and you do so in a controlled way.  You are moving ahead under control.

So what issues can this have an impact on?  Try some of these:

  • Prospecting
  • Presentations
  • Client contact programs
  • Key account management
  • Sales or order follow up
  • Referral business or leads
  • Database contact

Any of these things offer the opportunity for you to be proactive and in a position of taking action.  That’s how you win new business and grow your market share.

All of this being said the ‘front foot’ process involves a sales person planning what they want to do and action.  It is a deliberate process of moving ahead.

Let’s take prospecting as an example.  Here are some stages to taking the right action:

  1. Researching the new people to call and contact
  2. Establishing the best time to make your prospecting calls
  3. Getting out into your market to door knock the local businesses that may need your services
  4. Tracking the responses from your prospecting processes in a database
  5. Making return calls to people on a regular basis
  6. Creating meaningful content to provide to your clients and prospects

It is easy to see why some people are more successful than others.  It’s a choice.  Put your front foot forward and take the first step.

Effective Prospecting Strategies

You have three main prospecting strategies when it comes to connecting with more clients and prospects.  When you use all three in a balanced prospecting program, things can come together quite well.  Prospecting is a personal process in all respects.

So here they are:

  • Using the telephone to do cold calls (new people that you have not connected with before) and warm calls (people that you have spoken with before or have sent a letter to).
  • Direct mail to introduce your product and or services.  If you do this you should as a general rule follow up all letters sent.
  • Face to face meetings and ‘drop in’ door knocking systems.

The telephone is the easiest and cheapest way to prospect; that being said the calling process and system will require daily action for you to get any traction.  From regular calls you can create meetings and in some circumstances find immediate direct business to work on.  The dialogue process requires practice and effort.  Many salespeople struggle with that discipline.

If you are new to sales or are entering a new territory it is wise to consider just how you can implement these prospecting processes for yourself.

Here are some specific tips when it comes to making lots of cold calls:

  1. Prepare your calls and new targets each night for the next day.  Don’t waste precious time when it comes to your prospecting time on the telephone.  Get your research done before the business day starts.
  2. Stand up when you make your calls.  That single strategy will improve your conversational ability and meeting conversions.
  3. Prepare a simple entry script of 2 or 3 sentences.  After that point the call should revert to a conversation.
  4. The calls that you make should be about the person you are calling and not about you.
  5. Get away from fixed ridged call scripts that are unnatural.
  6. Practice your calls each morning when you first rise.  Soon the calls will come to you easily and your conversions to meetings will improve.
  7. Use the telephone to create meetings; don’t pitch your services across the telephone.  Get to meet the people and use your personality as part of that process.
  8. Build relationships with the people you meet so that you will be the ‘go to person’ when they have a need for your services and or product.

Prospecting is not hard.  It is just a discipline that requires practice.  Make more calls and improve your skills in doing so.  Over time you will build a better market share and client database.

Assemble a Top Class Marketing Packet

When you work in professional sales, you must have a marketing packet that is of the highest quality.  It must support you in every way possible given your market conditions, competition, product, and service.  You should know what’s in it and how to put your fingers on the right bit of information relative to the active connection with the client or prospect that you are making.

Some salespeople do this quite well, whilst others do not.  A client will view the condition and relevance of your presentational materials before they will listen to the story that you have to tell.

So what can or should you put in your presentation packet?  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Ensure that the packet or folder is very professional in appearance. That will mean a black folder with all relevant information placed inside.  It should be clean and not damaged through any ‘over use’.
  • Include ‘visual’ charts and graphs to help your clients understand the trends and changes in your industry.
  • Have colour brochures relating to your products and services.
  • Carry plenty of business cards ready to use
  • Company information and testimonials
  • Photographs of samples, and other client situations
  • Price lists plus order or agreement forms
  • A history of successful situations and stories from other clients that can be referred to
  • Letter of introduction will be useful to leave with the client or prospect
  • Statement of benefits available when using your products or services
  • Press clippings relative to your industry and market share

The keys to winning new business include professional tools like these.  Preparation is the rule here.  Let the client or prospect see that you are professionally competent and skilled in the right way to help them.  Beyond that point everything comes down to what you say and the confidence you convey.

Sales Success – Create a Game Plan First

In professional sales you need a ‘game plan’ to help take you to the market and the clients that want your products and services.  It’s all very nice to think that you are the ‘top specialist’ in your industry, but if the clients and customers are unaware of your skills and relevance, then nothing will happen with your market share (or income).  That is why you need a ‘game plan’.

So many salespeople are ‘order takers’; they think that the company that they work for will create the leads and opportunities, and that they will close the deal.  If only things were that easy!

So what is the focus of this plan?  Here are some key factors for you:

  • The plan must help you get in front of new people that could need your services at some stage in the future.
  • The plan must help you with referrals and introductions through third parties
  • The plan must help others to find you and contact you directly when they have a product or service need.
  • The plan must help you with relationship building with prospects and customers alike.

So what does your plan look like now?  In most circumstances many salespeople have only one or two of these issues covered.  They do the most convenient things that are not challenging or confronting; the ‘comfort zone’ is a big problem for many salespeople.

You have a real choice here.  You can ‘take the orders’ or you can ‘build market share’; the latter being the best road to success in sales.  New habits are required if you want to rise up in your market and industry as the ‘expert of choice’.

Develop an action plan that puts you into your market every day in a positive and new way.  Reach out to the new prospects and clients that you really need and may not be helping yet.  Remember that you are the ‘expert’ that people require.  Sell yourself and your relevance.